Towards cultural democracy?

Musicologist, pianist and activist Ian Pace has collated a set of responses to an article by Stella Duffy in the Guardian, commenting on a report that I co-authored on ‘everyday creativity’. These responses take a critical view of the central idea of the report, that cultural policy should move further towards supporting everyday creativity, and suggest that there are a variety of dangers with this approach. I have responded below to some of the comments.

Several commentators make comparisons between a shift towards ‘everyday creativity’ and arts policies under fascist regimes. They draw on historical examples from the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany relating to the problem of addressing elitism in the arts via democratisation, and include an accusation that this kind of policy shift would be ‘Stalinist’. While I think using historical examples to make a comparison can be helpful, it’s noticeable that these comments leap straight to fascism rather than considering any other, less extreme, examples, such as the Greater London Authority’s leftist cultural policy in the 1980s. This leap is the equivalent of suggesting that any form of economic redistribution leads to communism. By contrast, Stella Duffy gives the example of Fun Palaces, an organisation that has minimal central organisation and takes very different forms in local areas. Some Fun Palaces might draw on ‘elite’ forms of art such as literature while others might make space for more participatory forms. Rather than fascism, this is an example of extreme localism, its opposite.

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Towards cultural democracy?

Safeguarding and youth voice in music education – event overview

The third meeting of our emerging network on safeguarding in classical music education was held on Friday 25th November at The Purcell School (with very many thanks to deputy head James Harding for arranging this and to the Purcell School for providing the venue as well as refreshments and lunch). Having an organisation which is at the heart of training elite classical musicians in the UK – and indeed internationally – offering to host this event is an important symbolic gesture about the sector taking a lead on this issue. Not only that, but our meeting was held in the Liszt Room, with portraits of 19th century pianist and composer Franz Liszt all over the walls as well as one of his original manuscripts on display.

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Safeguarding and youth voice in music education – event overview

Abuse in music education: institutional perspectives – event overview

Following the event on abuse in music education in September 2015 at the Institute of Musical Research, on 6th May 2016 I lead an event on abuse in music education for organisations from the sector, generously hosted by Trinity College London. This was attended by around 20 representatives from classical music education organisations from across the country, with four speakers: Anne Tiivas, Director of the Child Protection in Sport Unit at the NSPCC, Louise Exton, who runs a helpline for whistleblowers in sport for the NSPCC, Dr Liz Haddon from the University of York, and Professor Pamela Burnard from the University of Cambridge.. It was a very rewarding and thought-provoking day thanks to some excellent presentations as well as a high quality of discussion among attendees. Continue reading “Abuse in music education: institutional perspectives – event overview”

Abuse in music education: institutional perspectives – event overview

Abuse in music education: event overview September 2015

In September 2015, Lucy Delap (University of Cambridge), Ian Pace (City University) and I organised a half-day event for academic researchers to present their work to classical music education institution leaders on the theme of abuse in music education. We wanted to bring together researchers who were working on related areas, to start a conversation responding to the slew of high profile court cases around abuse in music education that had come to light since 2013 (see Ian Pace’s blog posts on recent and historic cases, as well as media discussions). We could not find any researchers working directly on abuse in music education – whether sexual, physical or emotional/psychological abuse. Continue reading “Abuse in music education: event overview September 2015”

Abuse in music education: event overview September 2015

Safeguarding and youth voice in music education

Last Friday saw the third in a series of events on music education and abuse that I have been organising for/with the classical music education sector. The first event, last September, was organised by myself, Ian Pace (City University) and Lucy Delap (University of Cambridge) for academics to present our research around music education and abuse to the sector. At this event it was clear that the issues we raised required further discussion. As a result, I have organised two further events, partnering with Francesca Christmas at Trinity College London, James Harding from The Purcell School, and Ben Sandbrook, a music education consultant.

I have extensive notes from both of the last two events and will blog about the themes and issues that came up in later posts, but for the moment I have simply posted my introductory comments from Friday’s session, to introduce the events and subsequent blog posts on this topic.

Continue reading “Safeguarding and youth voice in music education”

Safeguarding and youth voice in music education

New lobby group on staff-student sexual exploitation in higher education

It’s been a busy summer. As well as getting a new job, as lecturer in sociology at the University of Portsmouth, I’ve co-founded a lobby group and consultancy to tackle staff-to-student sexual harassment, exploitation and misconduct in higher education, The 1752 Group. To our knowledge, we are the only group in the country working on this issue, and as there is a great lack of expertise around this issue in the UK, we think our services are badly needed!

You can read more on our website, including what our name means, and you can read about what the problem is and what we think needs to happen in a comment piece I’ve written for the WonkHE site.

New lobby group on staff-student sexual exploitation in higher education